(PDF KINDLE) [Ring of Steel Germany and Austria Hungary in World War I] Ò Alexander Watson

  • Hardcover
  • 788
  • Ring of Steel Germany and Austria Hungary in World War I
  • Alexander Watson
  • English
  • 10 January 2020
  • 9781846142215

Alexander Watson â 4 Read

Ring of Steel Germany and Austria Hungary in World War I Read ´ 104 Alexander Watson â 4 Read Despite local successes and an apparent triumph in Russia Germany and Austria Hungary were never able to break out of the the Allies' ring of steelIn Alexander Watson's compelling new history of the Great War all the major events of the war are seen from the perspective of Berlin and Vienna It is fundamentally a history of ordinary people In 1914 bot. Inside this giant of a tome is an average sized book crying to be freedI m fond of saying nobody cares about World War I That s because it s true Only strange people like me would first learn about the war at ten years old from a book in the school library It all began with an assassination in Sarajevo Hey that sounds exotic Exciting I m in Now let s learn about propaganda and trench warfare and poison gas and the Red Baron Awesome stuff for bookworm boysLittle did I know I d end up living in the city where the war officially began Belgrade Last year a friend of mine visited and I took him to the place where the mighty Danube meets the eually excellent Sava Right there I pointed across the confluence On that side of the river was the Austro Hungarian Empire And here gunboats opened fire on the city Later my wife told me I d pointed at the wrong spotEven those who ve heard of WWI know only the popular version which goes something like thisThe evil Germans started the war in order to dominate Europe if not the worldOnly America stopped themA hundred years later this remains the gospel among those in the know Last year the inimitable mayor of London Boris Johnson went out of his way to write an editorial urging us not to be swayed by other historical facts In the end he said Germany was to blame and Germany got what it had coming to them Never mind that Germany which did declare war on Russia and France which did invade gallant little Belgium on its way to France nevertheless never declared war on Britain Britain sacrificed nearly a million of its own voluntarilyWhat s been needed for a long time is a history of our Satanic enemies Germany and the Austro Hungarian Empire Ring of Steel provides that Unfortunately it provides far too much of itI have mixed impressions and really want to give this important work stars but the fact is every time I read it I felt like I had to outrun an avalanche of information when really a uarter would have sufficed This is a shame because the writing is clear The writing is interesting The writing is well organized The writing is fair all of which I love about a good history But there s too much to consume It even got to the point where I d read the first sentence of a paragraph only to skim the rest because I knew one interesting detail was inevitably going to be followed by ten not so interestingAs I write this though I must admit I did read one section thoroughly There must have been 20 pages or so dedicated to the Germans who served on the submarine fleet I thought it was fascinating And yet the detail was no less than it was for other aspects of the war recorded in Ring of Steel So perhaps I should say that this comprehensive history has something for everyone depending on what that something is Perhaps I should give it a future re read

Read & Download Ring of Steel Germany and Austria Hungary in World War I

Ring of Steel Germany and Austria Hungary in World War I

Ring of Steel Germany and Austria Hungary in World War I Read ´ 104 Alexander Watson â 4 Read For the empires of Germany and Austria Hungary the Great War which had begun with such high hopes for a fast dramatic outcome rapidly degenerated as invasions of both France and Serbia ended in catastrophe For four years the fighting now turned into a siege on a uite monstrous scale Europe became the focus of fighting of a kind previously unimagined. If you ve run across any of my other reviews of World War I related books you will know that I have spent approximately the last three and a half years trying to learn everything I can about the Great War I can pinpoint the date because this was a conscious decision I made when I learned that my wife with pregnant with our first kid I thought to myself Self you re about to lose a bunch of your free time You better choose one thing besides wine as a hobby and go with it I chose WWI for a couple reasons One the centenary was coming up now of course we re in the midst of it and two I didn t know anything about it Also I had been told that World War I pairs well with Yellow Tail chardonnay Things I knew about WWI three and a half years ago 1 It started because one guy shot another guy in Sarajevo 2 Snoopy shot down the Red Baron thereby assuring Allied supremacy of the blue yonder and 3 The Americans won it because AMERICA You re welcome as always Europe It s taken awhile and a lot of books a lot of wine a lot of money spent on books and wine and a lot of time reading those books and drinking that wine but I ve just started to grasp how that Sarajevo assassination precipitated a world crisis and a bit about how that crisis played out As we all know a little bit of knowledge and that s what I have a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing It has me putting on airs I now have strong opinions on things that I never knew existed only a short while ago It has given me a bit of a contrarian streak And in that spirit I purchased Alexander Watson s Ring of Steel This small child of a book 566 pages of text another hundred plus pages of notes this book is nothing if not well cited not only tells the story of the First World War from the perspective of Germany and Austria Hungary but it dares to take an apologist s stand At every point where Germany and Austria Hungary are to blame Watson offers up a defense Well at just about every point There is no one on earth who can logically defend Austria Hungary s bungled diplomacy following Franz Ferdinand s assassination It was just so bad This is one of the strong and obvious opinions I have formed Ring of Steel starts where every WWI book is legally obligated to begin with the July Crisis Austria Hungary attempted to use the death of its unloved heir as a pretext for going to war with Serbia which had been fomenting a dangerous pan Serbian nationalism that threatened the integrity of the Habsburg Empire But instead of just going to war Austria Hungary tripped over its untied shoelaces and fell flat on its face Germany needing to prop up its main ally gave Austria the infamous blank check a historical moment that feels like one frat boy accepting a dare from another frat boy than it resembles dead serious international diplomacy In any event Austria Hungary proceeded with extreme self defeating slowness assured of Germany s support while Germany s bellicose bipolar Kaiser tried to shove all the toothpaste back into the tube The end result obviously was Germany invading France via Belgium After the July Crisis Ring of Steel moves onto the war itself But it does this in a uniue way It does not present a chronology of battles battlefields and overmatched generals It is not interested in the positioning of Army A vis vis Army B Instead Ring of Steel tackles the war using a topical thematic approach The chapters present a series of discussions rather than a series of seuential events The chapter on the opening stages of the war for instance does not present the usual narrative It does not move methodically from the siege of Liege to the Battles of the Frontier to the climactic conflict on the Marne Instead it devotes a great deal of time to examining claims of German atrocities Contemporary Allied propaganda depicted the Germans as Huns bent on rape murder and the bayoneting of infants Directly after the war many of these claims were debunked and thus German brutality came to be seen as mostly myth Recently there has been a pushback against this position with certain historians I m thinking of Max Hastings here treating the Imperial German Army as proto Nazis engaged in a dry run of World War II war crimes Watson pushes back against the pushback in a somewhat but not entirely successful effort to re contextualize alleged atrocities Similarly in the chapter on the war on the Eastern Front Watson steers clear of recapitulating the mistakes and movements that led to the crushing defeat of the Russians at the Battle of Tannenberg Instead Watson focuses on the invasion of Prussia by Russian troops I thought this was a neat inversion of the typical WWI narrative which focuses on the victimization of Russian and French civilians Here you see things from the point of view of a German civilian just as innocent and shabbily treated as their Allied counterparts Later sections of the book detail the plight of German civilians as a result of the Allied blockade a blockade that considered food to be contraband One of the most interesting chapters takes on the notion of German plans for Europe following victory against the Allies As Watson writes Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg s war aims programStated boldly that the general aim of the war was securityfor all imaginable time This disarmingly simple aim was to be the basis of German policy throughout hostilities While it was defensive in conception the intention to achieve everlasting security was extraordinarily ambitious When combined with a world view that regarded security as a zero sum game to be won through domination not cooperation it soon slid into aggression To secure Germany for all imaginable time could not even in Bethmann s mind and certainly not for the hawkish elites around him mean merely a return to the unstable status uo of the last peacetime years Instead it reuired permanent control of invasion routes and the subjection of dangerous neighbors France must be so weakened as to make her revival as a great power impossible for all time Russia must be thrust as far as possible from Germany s eastern frontier and her domination over the non Russian vassal peoples broken Watson notes rightly that German war aims were not the cause of the war That is Germany did not go to war in 1914 to secure these goals Rather they developed uickly as the war progressed It is also worth noting that while Germany s goals seem on paper to be the working paper of a DC Comics supervillain they are exactly what the Allies did to Germany once they won the war What the Germans planned the Allies did with only an arguable difference in magnitude Redrawing of national frontiers Check Creation of demilitarized buffer zones Check People forced from their homes or forced to get a new passport Check Reduction to a non great power Checkmate In all my reviews of WWI books I make reference to the fact that I m on a literary journey It s my way of leaving bread crumbs for those who are also interested in this mammoth subject and want some ideas about where to start or where to go next To that end I should note that this is second or third level reading It operates under the assumption that you have some structural framework in your mind that outlines the broad parameters of the war Watson does not take any time to catch you up to speed He writes as though you already know the general history of WWI and proceeds to give you the GermanAustria Hungarian version of it This is a dense book Watson imparts of a lot of information Fortunately Watson is a decent writer For the most part he clearly expresses his thoughts and ideas and he never bogs down in subjects that are objectively uninteresting I m thinking of the chapter in Hew Strachan s book To Arms that is devoted to financing the war and spends time on bond yields than I m comfortable with He s a PhD but I never felt like he was trying to keep me at arm s length as a reader Every once in awhile Watson will write one of those uintessentially British sentences that go on for a paragraph are dreadfully passive and are studded with clauses But for the most part I have no strong comments about the style which means that it imparted information without either frustrating me or causing my heart so soar at the poetry of its prose I think the highest accolade I can give is that a book with such complex arguments and nuance was such a breeze to get through A book like this with such a clear point of view can t help but go too far Does Watson oversell the Germans and Austro Hungarians Sure This would be a problem if it was the only book on World War I that existed It s not though and so it is an excellent way to balance the scales The Triple Alliance was not comprised solely of saints martyrs and lovers of small animals But neither was it the second coming of a barbarian horde It was a collection of people and Watson gives them their due as people

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Ring of Steel Germany and Austria Hungary in World War I Read ´ 104 Alexander Watson â 4 Read H empires were flooded by genuine mass enthusiasm and their troubled elites were at one with most of the population But the course of the war put this under impossible strain with a fatal rupture between an ever extreme and unrealistic leadership and an exhausted and embittered people In the end they failed and were overwhelmed by defeat and revoluti. This is an outstanding work It speaks of Germany and Austria Hungary as surrounded by a ring of steel in World War I Great Britain France Russia Italy later the United States and some smaller countries They were outnumberedThis story is told from the perspective of Germany and Austria Hungary It is the story of government and the people It is less of a military history If you wish a detailed description of the masterful defeat of Russian forces at Tannenberg you won t get it There are only four pages out of a volume of 566 pages that even mention this battle Of course there are other volumes that focus on the battles and campaigns in great detail eg Collision of Empires The War on the Eastern Front in 1914 and one can refer to them for that aspect of the warThe volume provides considerable information on how warfare affected the people back home Over time with the British blockade of sea lanes which Germany depended upon for food and other key goods there was a slow strangulation of Germany Austria Hungary Some of its bread basket was occupied by Russian forces for a time creating great hardship at home Indeed there is much discussion in this book of the interrelation of military issues and what was occurring in the two home countries There is also considerable discussion of the political conseuences in both Germany and Austria Hungary from the warWe learn a great deal about major figures in Germany from Hindenburg and Ludendorff and the Kaiser and Western generals to key political leaders The same with key players from Austria Hungary One immediate lesson military leaders in the German military were much able than their colleagues from Austria HungaryThis is a terrific book Sometimes reading becomes a bit tedious from the massively detailed discussion of various elements of the conflict But persevering is very much well worth the effort